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October 24, 2021 | 6 min read

Bactesperse®: The Invention that Defeats Bacterial Colonies


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Like all living creatures, bacteria strive for the best possible conditions for growth and reproduction. For industrial companies, uncontrolled growth of bacteria can easily lead to a catastrophe called biofilm. ICL has responded to this dangerous and destructive industry challenge by proposing an innovative approach.

Biofilm is a sophisticated defense mechanism developed by bacteria. Different types of bacteria have the ability to adhere to surfaces on which they can build colonies that allow them to grow and protect themselves. In many manufacturing processes and facilities, biofilm can cause production disruptions, heat transfer interference, pipe blockage and corrosion even to the most durable metals. Consequently, this can lead to flawed goods, loss of productivity and increased energy costs. 

“In every industrial system that uses water flow, there are bacteria looking for a place to create a colony,” explains Dr. Michal Rodensky, Head of the Water treatment & Microbiology Department at the TAMI Institute – The ICL Center for Research and Development. “These colonies of bacteria can be hazardous. Legionella bacteria found in cooling tower water-spray like to hide in such colonies and are dangerous to workers. Biofilm can be a source of contamination to the water and also causes obstructions and biocorrosion (biological corrosion) that damages the finished products as well as the function of membranes, pumps, pipes and storage tanks.”

To avoid malfunctions and damages caused by biofilm, ICL developed a patented technology that is at the cutting edge of science. This technology is called Bactesperse®

Disrupting Bacterial Communication

“Bacteria in colonies have the ability to communicate with each-other via chemical signals. The specific molecule that gives bacteria the signal to disperse and leave the colony has been identified and isolated*,” says Dr. Rodensky. “This situation occurs naturally during the mature state of the biofilm in which the colony becomes very crowded. During this stage, bacteria signal their friends to leave and to create a new colony elsewhere. Bactesperse® disrupts the natural communication between the bacteria and gives them an order to leave the biofilm and migrate into the solution where they are vulnerable to our biocides.” 

 *Davies DG, Marques CNH. 2009. A Fatty Acid Messenger Is Responsible for Inducing Dispersion in Microbial Biofilms. J. Bacteriol. 191:1393‐1403.

Testing & Field Trials 

Currently, Bactesperse is undergoing tests and initial fields trials that are already providing successful results. The pilot facility at TAMI (ICL’s R&D Center) has acquired the ability to produce the unique molecule that is at the core of this unique product. 

The following graph displays results of one of the many tests that were conducted to determine the efficacy of the new Bactesperse technology. The graph shows the efficacy results using a CDC bio-reactor following a 1-hour treatment of non-oxidative biocide (10 ppm) on P. aeruginosa biofilms grown for 3 days.

The combined treatment of Bactesperse with the biocide enhanced biofilm treatment efficiency by ~2 orders of magnitude. 

A Bright Future for the Fight Against Biofilm

Bactesperse is a product that shows great promise. By dispersing existing biofilm and preventing biofilm formation, Bactesperse presents an innovative response to an acute industry need.

As our testing indicates, Bactesperse is active against a variety of microorganisms, including gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, as well as fungi. In addition, Bactesperse is active in low concentrations (ppb level).

Bactesperse is an optimal complementary solution to biocides. It does not conduct microorganism eradication activity, but rather communicates a dispersion signal. The ability to lead bacteria towards biocide environments significantly improves the efficiency of biofilm treatment.

Bactesperse is yet another breakthrough in ICL’s tradition of innovative industry solutions. Stay tuned for more news on Bactersperse and our other groundbreaking solutions!

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